Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Biscuits for Baby: Peach Shortcakes

Peach ShortcakeE2


These fluffy, buttery shortcakes are filled with peaches and cream with a dash of cinnamon, perfect for the summer.  I had planned and looked forward to doing a recipe like this earlier, eagerly anticipating peach season.  But a couple of weeks ago our cat, Baby, was struck with a sudden illness and we lost him very shortly after.  His suffering was heartbreaking.  After losing him, I barely slept and had no appetite whatsoever, both of which could not be more unlike myself.  I cried.  A lot.

Baby
Baby was the cat who thought he was a person, and had a big personality by turns loving, inquisitive, even bossy.  My furry BFF.  I missed falling asleep and waking with him, having him insist on sharing my seat at the table, greeting me when I came home, petting his soft fur, looking into his sweet face.  His little brother, Shnooky, has been a comfort to us.  (Disclaimer: I didn't name them, but their names are very fitting.)

Shortcake with Peaches and Cream
Like many cats, Baby would use his claws to knead beds and blankets.  My friend Bill once told me, "Do you know what they call cats doing that in the South?  Making biscuits."  And when I finally regained some appetite for food and life, I knew I wanted to make this recipe.  So this post is for you, buddy, and nine years of beautiful friendship.  I will always miss you more than I can say.

Peach Shortcakes
This biscuit recipe is super-easy, and it advises you to handle the dough as little as possible for the softest biscuits.  But that's not my style.  Instead of just scooping the dough onto baking sheets, I rolled out the dough and cut out biscuits with a scalloped cutter.  Much prettier.  At top, the unbaked rounds, and above, golden puffed-up goodness.

Peach Shortcake Tray
While they're still warm, split them open and top the bottom half with sweetened whipped cream and peaches and some ground cinnamon.  You might even want to enjoy it in the outdoors.

This post was linked up with Sweets for a Saturday.

Tender Shortcakes
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the Biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 tbs sugar
1½ sticks (12 tbs) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ cups cold heavy cream

For the filling
Berries (about ½ cup per shortcake) -- Or peaches, as I used
Sugar
Lightly sweetened softly whipped cream

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.  Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour.  Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender (My note: I used the food processor), cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.  You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces in between -- and that's just right.

Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you've got a very soft dough.  When the dough comes together, you'll probably still have dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl -- just use a spatula or your hands to mix and knead the dough until it's evenly blended.  Don't overdo it; it's better to have a few dry spots than an overworked dough.  Even with all the flour mixed in, the dough will be soft and sticky.

Spoon out about ⅓ cup of dough for each shortcake onto the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between the mounds of dough.  Pat each mound down until it is between ¾ and 1 inch high.  (The shortcakes can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Bake without defrosting -- just add at least 5 more minutes to the oven time).

If you have more dough, repeat, cooling the baking sheet first.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back at the midway point, until the shortcakes are puffed and give just a bit when prodded.  Pull the sheet from the oven and transfer the shortcakes to a cooling rack.

Put the berries (or peaches) in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar to taste, and let sit for about 10 minutes, until they are juicy.

The cakes are tender and really pretty fragile, so go easy with them.  Use a serrated knife and not much pressure to cut each cake in half horizontally.  (Alternatively, you can use the tines of a fork to prick a ring around the middle of the shortcake, then use your fingers to gently pry the halves apart.)  Put the bottom halves on plates, top with the berries -- make sure to include some of the sweet juices -- and spoon over some whipped cream.  Put the tops on the shortcakes or lean them against the cream.  If you decide to go for the open-faced shortcakes, you'll get two textures -- moist and moister.

8 comments:

  1. A fitting, delectably fluffy and sweet looking tribute for a kitty who was equally fluffy and sweet himself.

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  2. What a wonderful tribute to your sweet kitty. I'm so sorry to hear that you lost Baby. Thank you for sharing this inspired eat. I hope you had a good Friday...and are staying cool! I'm looking forward to a weekend of baking and relaxing. Much love!

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  3. Hi Shirley, thanks for stopping over at my site. These biscuits are reminiscent of British scones, which I love. And such a lovely post dedicated to Baby here. We also lost our white cat, Bruce Lee, and I can totally relate to your pain...I was trembling for days too afterwards.

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  4. I too can relate with the lost of my wonderful cat, Pepper, a while back. What is left is sweet memories. What a wonderful post!

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  5. We have awarded you the Versatile Blogger award! Please stop by our blog to claim your award and share the fun :)

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    Brandi, Amanda and Leslie - The Three Fabulous Mommies
    http://3fabulousmommies.blogspot.com

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  6. My heart is broken for you, I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your cat. Losing pets is so incredibly hard :-( I hope these delicious looking biscuits helped ease the pain. They are a wonderful tribute to a wonderful friend!

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  7. Beautiful pictures. Now I'm dying for some homemade biscuits! Yum!

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  8. I have a kitty myself and I can't even imagine what I will be like the day I lose her. But you have wonderful recipes and delicious looking treats! Thanks for sharing with us!!

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